If your car is hail-damaged in the current wave of DFW storms, blame it on Michael Young's Christmas Day revenge— Joey Matches (@BBTiA) December 25, 2012
● In case you missed it, Nick Swisher agreed to terms with the Indians on a four-year, $56 million deal with a fifth-year vesting option that could drive the total value to $70 million, and most analysts are deeming it a decent to good value for Cleveland; Keith Law thinks that it's a good-value, poor-fit type signing, though, and it's reasonable to posit that this deal would have helped Texas more than it will help Cleveland, given their respective positions on the win curve.
Jim Bowden, however, says that the Rangers were never "in" on Swisher, and aren't "in" on Adam LaRoche, either, as they aren't interested in doling out long-term deals or yielding draft picks for either player. So it goes ...
● Thad Levine went on the radio to talk about the Rangers' continued effort to acquire impact talent to compensate for the losses of Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli, et al., and seems to hint that the Rangers are all but done in free agency, with any possible impact acquisition likely coming down via the trade market.
● Brad Corbett, former Rangers owner, died peacefully on Christmas Eve at the age of 75, and Gerry Fraley has a fitting retrospective on the life of one of more unusual pro sports team owners that the Metroplex has ever seen. As the Rangers' owner from 1974-80, Corbett exhibited certain characteristics reminiscent of Jerry Jones (his insistence upon serving as both the owner and the GM, often with disastrous consequences) and Mark Cuban (living and dying with the Rangers' every success and failure), and holds the distinction of having presided over a baseball team which ran through four managers in an eight-day span during the 1977 season.
Mike Shropshire wrote at some length about Corbett in Seasons in Hell, delving into Corbett's overarching reason for wanting to buy the Rangers -- "[he] had become rich and now wanted to have some fun" -- and the background of his ownership consortium, which included Amon Carter, Jr. and Ray Nasher, the man responsible for developing NorthPark Center. There are two particularly striking bits relating to Corbett in Seasons in Hell that, I think, accurately convey his free-spirited, free-wheeling approach as the Rangers' owner, and convey the stark difference in team-owning protocol between the 1970s and the present:
The new Rangers deed-holders at the hastily arranged meeting with the media [after purchasing the club] were woefully ill-prepared to answer any specific questions concerning who actually owned what and how much they had paid for whatever it was that they weren't sure that they owned.
Corbett was asked when he expected to receive formal approval of the franchise sale from the American League. He shrugged and rolled his eyes, as if to say, "You mean the league has to okay this deal? Nobody told us that."
[...] An experienced and talented marketing executive from Fort Worth, Jerre Todd, approached Brad Corbett with what Todd called "a comprehensive promotional and advertising plan" to provide the team with a better image and take full advantage of the revenue potential not just from Dallas and Fort Worth but also from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.
"I made my pitch to Corbett thoroughly and elaborately ... it was a damn good plan," Todd told me, "and then Brad got this faraway look in his eye and he yelled, 'Parking lot! We'll have a big barbecue in the parking lot!' And he sent me away and that was that."
In Corbett's defense, Shropshire also notes that Corbett made a strategically inspired hire in hiring Dr. Bobby Brown as the team's president during the ownership transition ... Brown, a four-time World Series champion and third baseman for the Yankees through the '40s into the '50s, was said to "command the total respect of everybody associated with the [Rangers]," including firey skipper Billy Martin, which made him an ideal authority figure to help keep Martin in line.
In August 1974, however, Martin concocted a plan where he would ship David Clyde to the minors for a week and then recall him as an intended wake-up call -- which Martin likened to sending "little hoodlums" to prison just long enough to scare them straight -- and Brown vetoed Martin's proposal, telling Martin that Clyde had done too much for the Rangers to be manipulated in that way. The first sparks of friction between Martin and the Rangers flew after the Clyde veto, and the countdown to Martin's eventual firing was set into motion.
Corbett eventually fell out of public favor as his lavish spending on free agents and misfires on the trade market took a toll on both the Rangers' win totals and their finances. Among other things, Corbett reportedly traded Bobby Bonds and Len Barker to the Indians during a conversation at the men's urinal with Indians executive Gabe Paul, consulted his young son on trades, and once stormed into the clubhouse after a loss to call his assembled group of players "a bunch of dogs," then threatened to sell the team "to a bunch of Arabs."
I don't know that I would necessarily call those good years for the Rangers, given their acquired "circus" reputation during that era ... but Corbett wanted to win, and did preside over a few good to very good Rangers teams that just couldn't make it over the hump into the post-season, and there's just something intangibly endearing about colorful owners who leave great stories behind for later generations to enjoy.
I think you could also make a very convincing argument that the successes of the last few years wouldn't have been quite as sweet if not for the oft-bumbling ways of the Rangers during their first 30-plus years of existence.